Mike grew up in Cedar City, Utah, where his upbringing was rooted in the values of the American West, with its emphasis on hard work and common sense. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business while working in the insurance industry. In 1984, he became chief executive of The Leavitt Group, a family business that is now the nation’s second largest, privately held insurance brokerage.
In 1993, Mike was elected governor of Utah. He served three terms (1993-2003). In 2003, he joined the Cabinet of President George W. Bush, serving in two positions: first as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (2003-2005) and then as secretary of Health and Human Services (2005-2009). At HHS, he administered a $750 billion budget — nearly 25 percent of the entire federal budget — and 67,000 employees.
He led the implementation of the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Program. The task required the design, systematization, and implementation of a plan to provide 43 million seniors with a new prescription drug benefit. By the end of the first year, enrollments exceeded projections, prices were lower than projected, and seniors expressed high levels of satisfaction.
Mike’s strategic ability can be seen in his redesign of the nation’s system of quality and safety standards for imported goods. In the spring of 2006, President Bush assigned him to lead a government-wide response. Within months, he commended a major strategic shift in U.S. policy on import regulation and trade.
A pattern of innovation runs throughout Mike’s career. When he was elected governor, Utah’s major freeway system was dangerously inadequate. Taking what some thought was a significant political and financial risk, Mike instigated a design-build system, creating cost and quality incentives between the state and its contractors. The project was finished in half the originally projected time and well under budget.
Mike is, at heart, an entrepreneur. As governor, he organized a group of his colleagues to form Western Governors University. At WGU, degrees are earned based on competency rather than credit hours. WGU now has more than 60,000 students who reside in each of the 50 states and several foreign countries. Enrollment is growing at 35 percent a year. In November 2008, TIME magazine named WGU “the best relatively cheap university you’ve never heard of.”
Collaborator is a word that comes up repeatedly when one examines Mike’s background. His skill led his colleague governors to elect him as chairman of the National Governors Association, the Republican Governors Association and Western Governors’ Association. His book—Finding Allies, Building Alliances—was released in September 2013 by Jossey-Bass Publishers and chronicles his expertise and passion for collaboration.
Mike is a seasoned diplomat, leading U.S. delegations to more than 50 countries. He has conducted negotiations on matters related to health, the environment, and trade. At the conclusion of his service, the Chinese government awarded him the China Public Health Award – the first time this award has ever been given to a foreign government official.
- Value Nets: The Gold Standard of Collaboration
The formula for success is undergoing a sea of change. In our increasingly interconnected world, the biggest or best-managed organizations don’t always win. Instead, it’s the best-networked groups that triumph that move faster and more innovatively than stand-alone competitors toward ambitious objectives. Individual excellence is being replaced by collaborative excellence.
Unfortunately, few know how to collaborate in a high performance way. Typically, collaboration is viewed as simply having a cooperative attitude. In the world of low-level tasks, this perspective is fine. However, if the stakes are high, the partners are diverse and success requires a network among unnatural collaborators, a more sophisticated approach is required.
A savvy negotiator and skilled consensus-builder, Governor Leavitt will inspire and teach audiences to build and join high performance collaborative enterprises he terms Value Nets. This engaging, invaluable discussion centers on the elements required in constructing productive Value Nets and how to create, use and leverage them for business and personal success.
- Step-by-step: Protecting the U.S. Food Supply Throughout the Provider Chain
Governor Leavitt provides audiences a holistic approach to addressing modern day food safety and food defense challenges. Regardless of where organizations operate in the food supply chain, they are vulnerable to factors that are difficult to, and often beyond, control. Recent outbreaks and recalls have illustrated the fragility and vulnerability of brands and even entire businesses. Governor Leavitt urges organizations to recognize that as times have changed, so must the food and related industries if they are to stay ahead and alive. Governor Leavitt effectively addresses food safety and food defense problems wherever they may exist in the supply process.
- Import Safety The Most Urgent Threat You Don't Know About
The United States has one of the safest food supplies and among the highest standards of consumer protection in the world. However, the rapid growth in the volume of exports, as well as the number of importers and exporting countries, present challenges that require urgent attention. Americans want to enjoy fresh produce year-round, wear low-cost clothing, drive foreign-made cars, use electronic products designed and built off our shores, purchase affordable furniture and otherwise participate in the bounties of a global economy. This is the value of global trade. The challenges we face are the result of a global market beginning to mature. Just as the volume of trade has changed, so must the strategies to regulate safety. Simply scaling up our current inspection strategy will not work. We need to develop new tools and strategies equal to the new challenges we face. With an in-depth knowledge of international and domestic regulatory processes and first-hand experience in dealing with unsafe imported goods, Governor Leavitt provides audiences strategic counsel regarding the complexities and on-going changes related to imported foods and medical products, including pending legislation, product tracking and regulatory expertise.
- Health Care: Evolution or Revolution
Though there is much to be proud of in American health care, our society is increasingly recognizing an alarming lack of organization and alignment that pervades our health care infrastructure and delivery. Our health care system isn’t really a system at all. Information doesn’t move with patients, quality and cost information is far from transparent, and stakeholder incentives often run contrary to achieving real value. It is not unreasonable to categorize this dysfunction and its accompanying cost escalation as the most serious economic threat facing our nation in the coming decade. In this compelling presentation, Governor Leavitt identifies for audiences the core themes, structural shifts and evolving models that characterize the changing marketplace.
- Global Health and Diplomacy
The language of health is heard by the heart. The richest and poorest of us are bound together by the uncertainty of our mortality, the health conditions of those we love and, in some cases, the desperation of our pain. Said another way, global health is the common thread that binds all of humanity together. If we succeed in global health, we increase our chances of succeeding globally. In geopolitics, there is a constant struggle to win the hearts of the people. In that battle, actions speak louder than words. On the Richter scale of deeds, health makes the needle within a person’s heart move more than anything else. We must invest in and succeed in global health diplomacy as a means to improve international relations and conditions in the world. America needs to embrace health diplomacy and craft a unified policy around this important issue. In this enlightening presentation, Governor Leavitt helps audiences understand how global cooperation and collaboration around the issue of health can lead to improved economic, security and overall diplomatic relations.
- Health Care Reform in the 21st Century
Healthcare policy is no longer just an exercise in reform; it has become a question of economic policy. One of the greatest lessons Michael Leavitt learned during his time as Secretary of Health and Human Services is that if you are going to reform the healthcare system, you have to change Medicare -- the only system that pervades the entire healthcare environment. Using the lessons of Part D's Medicare drug benefit, Leavitt shares how to improve the country's health care system so that it delivers scorable savings, higher quality, and better value to all Americans.